The Golden State Warriors sacrificed too much depth to add Kevin Durant to their roster.
That’s been the train of thought all season, but on Wednesday night as the Warriors took on Portland in Game 2 of their playoff match-up, the Dubs’ second unit proved that they were ready to step up and play their part.
In the absence of Kevin Durant, Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes, as the Golden State Warriors went into their second game against the Portland Trailblazers, they were looking to their bench to get them across the line.
Often criticized for their lack of depth this season, the Dubs second and third units rose to the challenge. While Patrick McCaw and David West were both major contributors, it was the giant ball of energy that is JaVale McGee who ripped apart the Blazers defense early in the game.
Leading all scorers at the half, McGee racked up 13 points and 2 rebounds as Portland had no answer to Golden State’s big man as he took to the air making the most of the lob passes thrown in his general direction.
After securing the win, coach Steve Kerr commented on McGee’s ability to have an impact.
“His energy is great with his length and ability to catch that lob,” he said. “They’re basically playing smaller lineups, and we’re just trying to mix and match at that 5 spot and find the right combination and JaVale has given us great minutes in that role playing with that athleticism and energy.
“He’s still able to cover their smaller players, and then be a force around the rim.”
Putting up one his best performance of the season, rookie Patrick McCaw played 34 minutes – the most by any player in this game – and added 9 points, as well as being enlisted with the task of guarding CJ McCollum – who he kept very quiet by McCollum standards. McCaw also lit up Dub Nation with a huge block on Damian Lillard midway through the third quarter.
Coach Kerr talked about how McCaw’s ability to be unafraid is a key to his success this season.
“He’s a rookie and barely played in Game 1, but the fact that he stayed prepared, stayed ready and really defended well,” said Kerr post-game.
“I thought his defense was excellent. We asked him to guard Lillard and McCollum a little bit, and he did a really nice job.”
McCaw’s team mates were also full of praise in the locker room, with Ian Clark speaking about how he’s a much smarter and more poised player than people give him credit for, and Klay Thompson adding, “That might be the best game I’ve ever seen Pat play!”
In the end Warriors have proven that they have got the depth that they need – and that they can rely on their bench players to step up and perform when their number is called.
“I thought Andre was tremendous pushing the ball, David West made some great passes to Ian Clark” says Kerr. “We feel like we have a very deep team, and we needed that tonight – we needed every guy and they came through.”
The series now moves to Portland where Game 3 will take place on Saturday.
Feature Image: Sports Illustrated/Getty Images